Sanctions Stranglehold: Moving Industry Caught in the Crossfire 

November 28, 2023

European Removal Companies Grapple with Unforeseen Consequences

In an unexpected turn of events, the ripple effects of sanctions against Russia due to its war against Ukraine have reached an unlikely sector – the European moving and relocation industry. The repercussions of these sanctions are hitting close to home for removal companies, catching them off guard with restrictions on household goods shipments to and from Russia. 

The root cause of this unanticipated hurdle lies in the prohibition of luxury goods imports from Russia. While the focus has been on items like precious metals, jewelry, caviar, and fur, the moving industry finds itself inadvertently entangled in these restrictions. Many removal companies might not even be aware that the sanctions extend to their operations, requiring a detailed declaration for each and every individual item in the shipment. 

Federation of Luxembourg Movers (Fédélux), a Governing Member of FEDEMAC warns that Luxembourg customs authorities are implementing  stringent measures. According to Alain Gallion, a representative from Fédélux, the latest version of the EU Council regulation (no. 833/2014) issued on October 1, 2023, has blocked all household goods shipments to and from Russia. The customary use of Customs code 9905 for declarations has been disallowed. Instead, a detailed customs declaration for each individual item in the shipment must now be submitted. 

Customs authorities argue that, based on the regulation, specific luxury goods listed in Article 3h with Annex XVIII and Article 3i with Annex XXI may be present in household goods shipments but are prohibited from entering the EU. Consequently, importers/exporters are required to declare every single item with its corresponding customs code. 

“This is an impossible undertaking and constitutes a ‘de facto’ import/export stop,” says Gallion. The new regulations have left removal companies in a quandary, unable to facilitate household goods shipments between Russia and Luxembourg, irrespective of the transferee’s working or residency status. 

In light of these developments, FEDEMAC calls on all members and colleagues in the moving industry to be informed and vigilant. The broader implication of sanctions on the moving and relocation sector needs attention. Also, FEDEMAC urges industry professionals to share their experiences and comments on the practical implications of sanctions in their respective countries.  

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